BAD POLITICS: The politics of sleaze and thuggery. Who’s to blame?
People & Places

BAD POLITICS: The politics of sleaze and thuggery. Who’s to blame?

Contributing editor Mark Bourrie decries the sleaze in today’s politics — and lays the blame

Blessed are the poor, because they’re easy to railroad into jail.

Blessed are the meek, because they don’t fight back.

In the new Ottawa, morality is a fluid thing, and the teachings of Our Savior are honoured in the breach.

Our family values Minister of Public Safety turns out to be a fellow who should have kept a few safes in his pocket. Anonymous leaks have linked the minister to an alleged affair with his children’s babysitter… at the same time he was lecturing the rest of us on the sanctity of marriage during the same-sex marriage debate.

Now he’s back-peddling on his plan to snoop into our Internet habits after saying privacy activists are in league with child pornographers.

Then comes a story about a very intricate, and extremely deniable, scheme to “ratfuck” the Liberals and NDP in the last election.

Ratfucking first surfaced in the 1972 US presidential election. It was coined by Nixon’s little creeps to describe the ways they screwed over their opponents. Most of this scandalous behavior seems quaint today: cancelling hall bookings; sending dozens of unwanted and unpaid-for pizzas to opposition rallies. But after Richard Nixon promised to purge all the bad apples out of his campaign, the chief ratfucker, Donald Segretti, went to prison.

Now political campaigns are veritable rat orgies. Every little political hustler wants to be the next James Carville, the hateful alien-looking man who played Igor to Bill Clinton’s Dr. Frankenstein. At best, they run “war rooms” where they play “gotcha” with their opponents. The press, often as shallow and amoral as the campaign hustlers, feeds on the crap spewed from these War Rooms and helps turn politics into a sick game.

Now it turns out the Tories were infiltrated by a rogue staffer who somehow raised a load of dough, organized a scheme involving robocalls from a Tory-friendly call centre in Calgary, and personally, without anyone else knowing and with certainly no approval, ran it.

Voter suppression is a big part of the Republican playbook in the States, and it’s pretty clear that it’s come to Canada, along with another dirty tricks.

Like the calls to the Montreal riding of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. He’s one of the most effective critics of the Conservatives’ law-and-order agenda. A respected legal scholar, Cotler served as minister of justice in the last Liberal government.

The callers told Cotler’s constituents that he wasn’t running again. At the same time, the defeated Tory candidate acted like he’d won. He set up constituency meetings and told voters he’s looking after their interests in Ottawa.

Andrew Scheer, the Speaker of the House of Commons, said there was no foul because there was no harm. Sort of like a bank heist gone wrong, where a gun is pulled and the teller laughs it off as a fake. Nope, nothing happened.

You better sit back and enjoy what’s happening to this country, because all we’re seeing is a ramped-up version of the thuggery of the Chrétien years. The Liberals had nearly a century in power to learn how to apply some subtlety to their sleaze. And the NDP really has no plans to make things work better. They have their own coven of campaign creeps and sleazy spinners.

You could take up pot smoking, but you’ll face Justice minister Rob Nicholson’s new mandatory jail terms. You could start a blog, but Vic is watching. You could protest and be held up to ridicule on Sun TV and beaten like a pinata on fascist blogs.

You can tell I’m in a pissy mood this week. But it’s become very obvious to me that we have to take back this country. Not “we” in the sense of an ideology, but “we” as people. Enough of the ratfuckers, the spin doctors and those who would undermine democracy and its handmaiden, a free press.

Maybe we’re too fat, too comfortable, and too scared. By the time this regime plays out, I suspect we’ll lose two out of three excuses.